Former Westminster O.T. Professor Raymond Dillard Sounding Very Covenantal-Charismatic

The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository CommentaryThe late Dr. Raymond Dillard, who served as Professor of O.T. at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philly), penned a great commentary on Joel that is included in the McComiskey edited work on the Minor Prophets. I have quoted extensively from it in my thesis research and thought the following couple quotes were quite bold coming from a Westminster prof:

Dillard (1992:295) encourages the modern church to consider the implications of being a “prophethood of believers” in addition to the Protestant emphasis of the “priesthood of believers”:

Protestant theology is accustomed to speaking of the “priesthood of all believers”; perhaps in light of Acts 2 and Joel 2:28-32, we must also speak of the “prophethood of all believers.” The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost inaugurated a new age, the age when Moses’ prayer is realized and all God’s people are endued with the Spirit of prophecy. The possession of the Spirit would never again be the restricted preserve of a few; all who call on the name of the Lord (2:32) now have the equipage and the obligation incumbent upon prophets to bear witness to their generation.

One would naturally inquire as to what this ought to look like in the New Testament church, and Dillard (1992:295) sounds much like modern Pentecostal/Charismatics when he states the following,

“This enduement with the Spirit of prophecy belongs to the general office of the church—rich and poor, young and old, male and female; the privilege of proclaiming God’s truth to a waiting world is not the province of the special office alone.”

I refer to myself as being Covenantal-Charismatic, in that I see Pentecost not merely as a foreshadowing (Dispensational), or as a complete fulfillment (Some Covenantal), but as an inauguration of a “new age” (to use Dillard’s terminology) that is not marked merely by a soteric working of the Spirit, as awesome as that is, but is also accompanied by a Charismatic enduement. Just as Dr. Doug Oss (a Westminster grad turned Assemblies of God seminary professor) argued for a Pentecostal understanding of the “new era” based primarily on the covenantal framework  (See Zondervan’s Counterpoint Volume) that he learned at Westminster, so I also contend for the clear unification of Covenantal and Charismatic theologies. I am encouraged that Dr. Dillard also enumerated some conclusions on Joel’s text that sounds awfully close to the Covenantal-Charismatic paradigm that I think deserves more attention.

© 2009, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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2 comments on “Former Westminster O.T. Professor Raymond Dillard Sounding Very Covenantal-Charismatic
  1. By drawing out this Biblical-theological connection, Dillard was drawing his readers to a sort of Christo-telic focus (to borrow Enns’ terminology, who in turn coined it based on Hays’ own expression: “ecclesio-telic”). It should not be surprising that such a focus necessarily involved the importance of Pentecost as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. Such a focus is not necessarily charismatic/Pentecostal! Dillard was intending to draw out a much larger point which focused in on the inauguration of the new age of the Spirit (on account of the resurrection of Christ!), who points individuals to the Gospel, never to Himself (or His gifts)!

    • Good stuff Steve! You’re right in noting that such a focus is not necessarily charismatic/Pentecostal, but his quotes:

      Protestant theology is accustomed to speaking of the “priesthood of all believers”; perhaps in light of Acts 2 and Joel 2:28-32, we must also speak of the “prophethood of all believers.” The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost inaugurated a new age, the age when Moses’ prayer is realized and all God’s people are endued with the Spirit of prophecy. The possession of the Spirit would never again be the restricted preserve of a few; all who call on the name of the Lord (2:32) now have the equipage and the obligation incumbent upon prophets to bear witness to their generation.

      and

      “This enduement with the Spirit of prophecy belongs to the general office of the church—rich and poor, young and old, male and female; the privilege of proclaiming God’s truth to a waiting world is not the province of the special office alone.”

      He departs from Redemptive-Historical Covenant theologians who speak of Joel being fulfilled in Pentecost, whereas Dillard notes that Pentecost brought forth an age of the Spirit. Dillard is not only speaking of the indwelling Spirit in a regenerative or sanctifying sense, but goes on to specifically state that this Spirit of prophecy belongs collectively to the church and not just to office holders. Essentially, Dillard notes the vocational and missional aspect of the Spirit’s coming in this New Covenant, which parallels Pentecostal/charismatic emphases.

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